President Biden has revived a story he told years ago that he was “shot at” overseas, mirroring a claim once made by Hillary Clinton for which she later said she “misspoke.”
In a short address to State Department employees on Thursday, Biden said, “You have great personal courage. I’ve been with some of you when we’ve been shot at.” He offered no further details of the incident.
Back in 2007, Biden was forced to walk back a similar claim during a CNN-hosted Democratic presidential debate. Then, he said he was “shot at” inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.
“Let’s start telling the truth,” he said at the debate. “Number one, you take all the troops out — you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.”
Biden later said, “I was near where a shot landed.”
“When asked for a detailed account of the experience, Biden described three incidents on two separate Iraq trips in which he felt that he was shot at or might have been shot at,” The Hill reported at the time. “Only one of them took place inside the Green Zone, he said and involved a ‘shot’ landing outside the building where he and other senators were staying. He added that the vehicle he was traveling in the day before might also have been hit. … Thinking about it now, he said, a more accurate comment would have been: ‘I was near where a shot landed.’”
The incident mirrors another with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In March 2008, giving a foreign policy speech on Iraq about her days as first lady and a trip to Tuzla, Bosnia, she said, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead, we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Right after the speech, she was asked about the sniper fire. “There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened,” she said.
But a video of the arrival ceremony showed Clinton walking calmly across the tarmac to meet a little girl who gave her a poem.
A week later, she changed her story, telling the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board that she “misspoke.”
The next day, she told reporters: “So I made a mistake. That happens. It shows I’m human, which for some people is a revelation.”
Brian Williams, the former anchor for NBC News, also got caught up in a stolen valor scandal in 2015. Williams claimed he was in the helicopter that had been hit by a grenade while in Iraq in 2003.
On an “NBC Nightly News” broadcast during the scandal, Williams read a statement apologizing for his characterization of the episode.
“After a ground fire incident in the desert during the Iraq war invasion, I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” he said. “It did not take long to hear from some brave men and women in the air crews who were also in that desert. I want to apologize. I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by [rocket-propelled grenade] fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. . . . This was a bungled attempt by me to thank one special veteran and, by extension, our brave military men and women, veterans everywhere, those who have served while I did not.”